County increases permit fees

Fees have not been revised since 1994

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For the first time in more than two decades, Adams County has increased fees for permits and associated work for its planning and development, neighborhood and transportation departments.

The Adams County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the rate increases — and in some cases, establishing a fee for services — during their regular June 24 meeting.

“It’s important to note that these fees have not been revised since 1994, which is roughly about 21 years,” said Deputy County Manager Ray Gonzales. “In many cases, Adams County charges significantly less than any other counties and cities in the metro area for these services.”

He added that no fees had been charged for a number of these services. The rate increases went into effect July 1.

The county is using a phased approach to implement any fees that will be increased by more than five times.

The second increase for these services will be Jan. 1, 2015.

District 3 Commissioner Erik Hansen said it was reasonable to charge for these services and that increasing the fees will not scare off business.

“It’s unfortunate that it creates a little bit of a sticker shock, so I appreciate what you’re doing in terms of phasing it in for certain people, but you know at the end of the day we’re talking about specific fees for specific purpose — building permit fees, storm water inspection fees — in some cases we weren’t charging for fees for anything whatsoever when everybody in the metro area was charging these fees,” he said.

Some of the services that were not being charged before, but now have a fee, include commercial building permits ($65 at first, then another increase Jan. 1 to $130), residential building permits ($45), memorial sign program ($100) and storm water permits ($200).

Increased fees include conditional use permits, which have doubled to $1,000; sign permits from $75 previously to $200; and special use permits from $100 to $500-$700.

“Based on the current average permit volumes, the new permit fees are estimated to generate an additional $415,000 annually,” Gonzales said.

Staff will start doing annual reviews of these fees to keep up with neighboring municipalities.

“A lot of people when I’m out campaigning always say they want government to run like a business and that you need some kind of business sense to be able to run the budget,” said District 1 Commissioner Eva Henry. “I don’t know of any business that hasn’t raised their prices or fees in 21 years.”

The permit fees only apply to projects in unincorporated Adams County.